Rubber Crumbs On Artificial Football Pitches Could Be Linked To Cancer
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Anyone who has ever played five-a-side on an artificial surface or been down the slide at a kid's playground will be familiar with crumb rubber.
Crumb rubber is the small rubber pellets that create bounce on a football pitch or cushion the blow when children fall down at the park but it could be doing a lot more harm than good.
At least, that's the argument that Nigel Maguire is making.
Nigel Maguire is a former NHS chief who is on a crusade to get the government to ban rubber pellets from artificial football surfaces because he believes they may have caused his son to get cancer.
His 20-year-old son, Lewis, tragically died after a four-year-long battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma that he looked like he was winning.
Nigel has written to the government to ask them to stop allowing pitches to be built with crumb rubber, which is made largely from old tyres, because they contain potentially harmful chemicals such as mercury, lead, and benzene.
Lewis was a goalkeeper and as such would come into contact with the rubber a lot of the time. The potentially toxic pellets could have gone into his mouth or become stuck in cuts on the body.
Nigel said: "He used to come home with his kit covered in the stuff. We'd have to scrape it off.
"Goalkeepers like Lewis dive dozens of times in training so they breathe it in or swallow it and it gets in their grazes.
"The more I look into it, the more horrified I am. Anyone who thinks swallowing half a teaspoon a week of that stuff is a good idea is barking mad.
"If people knew where the black rubber pellets came from and were made of they would think twice about letting their kids train there."
He's not alone either. In 2016, campaigners in the USA linked artificial pitches to more than 150 cancer cases.
The European Chemicals Agency is also considering a ban on crumb rubber after recent studies in the Netherlands.
One Scottish League One club, Stenhousemuir, has sought advice from governing bodies about their own synthetic pitch.
FIFA has said that the pitches are absolutely safe and that research has been carried out to ensure safety.
However, Nigel thinks further research should be done. He said: "Cigarette, asbestos and thalidomide manufacturers said there was no evidence of harm too and look how that turned out."
A spokesperson for the English Football Association said: "We are aware of the concerns and are monitoring industry research as well as conducting our own."